Fuentes de Onoro

3 and 5 May, 1811

Spanish Battle Tour Guides

Desperate to relieve the besieged fortress of Almeida, Marshal Massena moved with almost 50,000 men towards his target, but found himself up against some 36,000 troops under the Duke of Wellington.

The first clash came on the 3rd, when five French battalions were sent against just over 2000 British light infantrymen.

After heavy fighting the defenders were ejected from the village, but a counterattack by three regiments retook it.

The British suffered 259 casualties to more than 650 by the French. Skirmishing on the 4th was replaced by a serious attempt by Massena to gain the village.

An early assault by infantry and cavalry routed Spanish cavalry units and the British horsemen, under General Sir Stapleton Cotton.

The push against the right was only just held off by Wellington's men, but they managed to conduct a textbook withdrawal in the face of the enemy.

Halting at prepared defensive lines, the British kept the attackers at bay on the right while the village of Fuentes was bitterly defended.

A steady stream of reinforcements allowed Wellington to hold the position against up to 28 enemy battalions thrown at it.

Massena withdrew leaving 2192 men behind as opposed to Wellington's 1500.




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